In Jodhpur, Dalit family lives in fear after boy touches non-Dalit’s plate

The teacher at the Rajkiya Ucch Madhyamik Vidyalaya here was arrested two days after the beating and is out on bail but now, Class 4 student Dinesh’s elder brother Narpat, 17, has allegedly received a death threat from local Jat youths.

Written by Mohammad Hamza Khan | Jodhpur | Published: October 9, 2015 3:22 am
Dalit, Dalit student, dalit beaten, discrimination, dalit discrimination, caste discrimination dalit tortured, dalit jodhpur, dalit rajasthan, non-Dalits, india news Students at Dinesh’s school recount how discrimination is routine, but officials deny it. (Express Photo by: Rohit Jain Paras)

One week after a 12-year-old Dalit student was severely beaten by a teacher for touching a plate “meant for non-Dalits” during the mid-day meal at his school, nothing has changed at Berdo Ka Bas panchayat in Jodhpur’s Osian block.

The teacher at the Rajkiya Ucch Madhyamik Vidyalaya here was arrested two days after the beating and is out on bail but now, Class 4 student Dinesh’s elder brother Narpat, 17, has allegedly received a death threat from local Jat youths.

“The Jats are unhappy with the action taken against the teacher, Hemaram Jat, and want his reinstatement. So their youths keep threatening us. They have threatened Narpat, saying they will keep me busy by killing him so I won’t able to pursue the case against Hemaram,” said Dinesh’s father Malaram Meghwal, a farmer.

Berdo Ka Bas has around 500 Jat and 100 Dalit families. The village has five schools of which four take in students only up to Class 8, leaving Dinesh’s school as the only option for those wishing to study up to Class 12. And it’s in this high school, allege Dalit villagers, that the discrimination is rampant.

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Here, a 16-year-old Class 9 student Raju Ram told The Indian Express that he still can’t touch his classmate and best friend Deeparam Jat — Raju is a Dalit and Deeparam is a Jat, which is “like being a Brahmin”.

Ram says he “cannot touch the water bucket at school, and my Jat classmates or teachers pour water into my palm with a mug”. “In classrooms too, we have a separate seating arrangement,” said Ram. Shaitanwa Ram, 15, another Class 9 student, says the plates too, are stacked separately for Jats and Dalits — meals for Dalits are served at a distance.

More than 80 km away, Dr Rakesh Johra, who looked after Dinesh as he recovered at the Umaid hospital in Jodhpur, told The Indian Express that even though the boy was discharged on Wednesday, “we have referred him to an ENT for his ear injuries”.

Elaborating on the incident, Dinesh’s father Malaram says that “other students had prodded him to pick up a plate meant for non-Dalits”. “But as soon as he touched it, they raised a commotion after which Hemaram beat him. My son came home crying, and started vomiting,” he said.

“When I reached the school to confront them over the ‘bhed bhaav’ (discrimination), one teacher held me by the throat and Hemaram attacked me with a stick, injuring my arm,” said Malaram.

Back in the village, the horror stories continue. “Three years ago, another Dalit student in that school was beaten up by Hemaram for touching his chair and landed up in hospital for 15 days. He ultimately dropped out,” said Dheeraram, 51, whose wife was once a sarpanch here.

“If you touch their tiffin, they throw the contents to dogs,” said Togaram, 48. Dayaram, 18, from Class 10, says he was once beaten up when his hand touched a teacher’s tiffin box while he was sweeping the floor.

While Hemaram and other teachers refused to speak to The Indian Express, Anshulal, a physical education teacher who is the headmaster temporarily in charge of this school, says “there is absolutely no discrimination at the school.” “They cook up stories because we are strict,” he said.

Bhagwana Ram, a Jat who has a child in the same school, says Hemaram is “just strict”. “All children are hit, else they will be spoiled. But whenever they (the Dalit kids) are scolded, their parents make it a caste issue,” he said.

Nutan Bala Kapila, Jodhpur Deputy Director, Elementary and Secondary Education, said that an inquiry report into Dinesh’s case is expected soon. “The District Education Department had been asked to submit a report, we expect it within a couple of days,” she said.

Hemaram was arrested on October 3 after being booked under sections 323 (Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 341 (Punishment for wrongful restraint) of the Indian Penal Code as well as under the SC/ST Act. He was granted bail soon after.

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  1. N
    Oct 9, 2015 at 6:29 am
    Brahmins initiated all these social Ills 3000 years ago. How long we can suffer by those Bs. Just banish them out of earth.
    1. G
      Oct 9, 2015 at 6:31 am
      And this is precisely the reason why there should be affirmative action by state to protect OBCs, SCs and STs. It is sometimes misused but it is better to have a law that is "sometimes" misused than nothing at all.
      1. D
        Oct 9, 2015 at 3:34 pm
        Can all Shankaracharyas, Hindu religious & pro-Hindu-rashtra leaders (incl. VHP / SS) come together on a single platform and denounce all ills of Hinduism. Will they send the right message to their followers? or ...........Is this what will happen in Hindu rashtra being sought in India?
        1. B
          Oct 9, 2015 at 7:41 am
          Smriti Irani ji please take action
          1. K
            Oct 9, 2015 at 7:00 pm
            Ever since the Congress lost its power to rule, the media has been planting stories that are half-truth, total lies and totally impossible. The beef story has finally been opened deeply, it had nothing to do with Hindus and Muslims, it has more to do with economics. This story is also not true, there is no discrimination.
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